February 2002 Issue

No Radar? No Problem

As GPS approaches become more common, vectors to final may be a luxury. Here’s how to get into the approach on your own.

[IMGCAP(1)] Listening to ATC is a favorite diversion for my wife as we approach our destination, particularly when the weather is ugly. The chatter between pilots and controllers can be comforting, giving an eavesdropping passenger the impression that we’re all professionals quietly going about our routine missions.

But what’s truly routine to a pilot can startle a passenger unfamiliar with the finer points of IFR flying. I recall the look of horror on my wife’s face the first time she heard the phrase “radar contact lost” when I was cleared for an approach while we were bouncing around inside some turbulent gray clouds.

Like many, she had the impression that we couldn’t land without...

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